22 February 2011

The Tonner Canyon and Carbon Canyon Connection, Part 3

The second of the "three brothers" who, in 1914, purchased 2,500 acres in Tonner Canyon from Walter F. Fundenberg and which became known as Tres Hermanos Ranch was William Richard Rowland.  Rowland came from a "pioneer" family of longstanding in the Los Angeles region. 

His father, John Rowland, was born sometime in the 1790s in northwest Maryland or southeast Pennsylvania and was either of English or Welsh ancestry.  The elder Rowland moved with his family to Morgan County, Ohio, east of Columbus and almost directly west of his place of birth and along a growing emigrant route to the "Old West."  By the early 1820s, John Rowland was on the road once more, probably following the Ohio River route to the Mississippi and then to St. Louis.  He then headed further west and wound up on an early caravan along the newly-created Santa Fe Trail leading then from central Missouri to New Mexico.

John Rowland settled in Taos and ran a flour mill while also entering a partnership distilling the famed "Taos Lightning" whiskey with English native William Workman.  Rowland married New Mexico native María Encarnación Martinez in 1825 and raised a large family.  Their lives, however, were transformed by politics when the American revolution that led to the creation of the independent Republic of Texas brought ambitions by that country of annexing much of New Mexico.  Rowland, along with Workman, was accused of conspiring with the Texans, leading the two men and dozens of others, including Americans, Europeans and New Mexicans, to migrate to California in Fall 1841.

The next spring John Rowland secured a land grant to Rancho La Puente, receiving 18,000 acres east of the San Gabriel River and then, three years later, obtaining an extension to nearly 49,000 acres.  The eastern boundary ran near Valley Boulevard in present Walnut and Pomona, within a few miles of Tonner Canyon.  For decades, the Rowland family raised cattle, farmed, ran a flour mill, manufactured wine and enjoyed great wealth.  After receiving a federal land patent for La Puente in 1867, Rowland and Workman divided the ranch amongst themselves and Rowland, in turn, partitioned his ranch to his children, the distribution of which took place after his death in October 1873.

William R. Rowland was the last of the children of John and Encarnación and the only born in California when he was delivered on 11 November 1846.  His mother died when he was not quite five years old and, within a year or so, his father married widower Charlotte Gray, a member of the new American community of Lexington (later El Monte), founded in 1851.  William was educated by Henry D. Barrows at the private school of orange grower and rancher William Wolfskill and then attended what would roughly be the equivalent of high school at Santa Clara College (now the University of Santa Clara) in the town of that name next to San José.  Returning to La Puente, he assisted his father in the ranching business for about a decade.

He left ranching because he was, at age 25, the youngest person ever elected Los Angeles County sheriff.  Securing the office in the election of December 1871 and taking oath the next month, Rowland was the county's lead law enforcement officer during a time in which the region experienced its first significant period of growth.  His tenure was largely quiet, except for one notable event. 

William Richard Rowland (1846-1926) from John Steven McGroarty's
From the Mountains to the Sea, 1921.

In Spring 1874, noted bandido Tiburcio Vásquez came down from northern California and, skirting Los Angeles, came upon the house of sheep rancher Alessandro Repetto in modern Monterey Park.  The bandit's attempt at robbery snagged, however, when he learned that the Italian-born rancher kept his money in the Los Angeles bank of Temple and Workman, the latter the same co-owner of Rancho La Puente with the Rowland family mentioned above.  When Repetto sent a nephew (or son) to the bank to withdraw $800 to give to Vásquez, bank president, F. P. F. Temple, Workman's son-in-law, became suspicious and notified Sheriff Rowland.  A plan was hatched for Rowland and some deputies to follow the young man back to the Repetto ranch, but, fearing harm would come to his uncle (or father), the lad raced ahead and warned Vásquez of the coming of the sheriff.  A chase ensued, in which Vásquez and his men stormed north toward the San Gabriel Mountains, though coolly enough to stop and rob a surveyor working on a new townsite for some migrants from Indiana soon to be called Pasadena.  Vásquez and his band managed to reach the steep mountains and, with great daring, eluded Rowland and posse.

Vásquez was, however, wanted for murder in the north, so decided to find refuge west of Los Angeles in what is now West Hollywood at a ranch of a man known as Greek George (born Yiorgos Caralambo in Smyrna, Turkey and naturalized as George Allen.)  After a period of days, Rowland learned from an informer of the bandit's hideaway and decided that the best way to capture Vásquez was to send a posse out to the ranch while Rowland remained in Los Angeles, acting as if he was completely ignorant of the bandit's whereabouts.  The subterfuge worked and Vásquez was captured rather easily by the group led by Under-Sheriff Henry M. Mitchell.  After confinement in Los Angeles, during which Vásquez likely became the first criminal celebrity in Lotusland, and extradition north to face the murder rap, Vásquez was hung in San Jose in Spring 1875.  Rowland was generally accounted a hero and received a $5,000 award from the state, though some in the local press grumbled that the delay in netting Vásquez was because Rowland had a Latina mother!

Rowland served two terms as sheriff, from 1872-75 and 1880-82, and then returned to his 2,600-acre share of the La Puente ranch, which included much of today's Walnut as well as land closer to the family homestead in modern City of Industry and Rowland Heights.  In the former, he ran livestock and an adobe house he constructed for ranch workers survives today as a historic landmark in a Walnut city park.  At the latter, he was the extremely fortunate beneficiary of oil discovered in the Puente Hills in 1885.  With partners Burdette Chandler and William Lacy, Rowland created the Puente Oil Company, of which he was president, and also found his discovery to be timely because, with the completion of a direct transcontinental railroad link to Los Angeles from the east that same year, a new development boom, the famed Boom of the Eighties, meant a growing customer base for the Puente Oil Company.

Indeed, one of the early customers for the oil as used for fuel was Richard Gird of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, whose sugar beet factory utilized the product.  Puente Oil also shipped its crude to Chino where a refinery was constructed.  Notably, aside from the successful production of oil in 1876 at today's Santa Clarita, Rowland's enterprise was one of the first oil discoveries in the region and came seven years or so before Charles Canfield and Edward Doheny opened a field in the city of Los Angeles.  Doheny, in 1896-97, also drilled the first successful well in Orange County, specifically in the Carbon Canyon area at Olinda.

As an oil magnate, Rowland settled into a life of wealth and luxury atop Bunker Hill, the preeminent neighborhood of Los Angeles in the late 19th-century and now the financial center of the city.  He had another connection to Rancho Santa Ana del Chino in that, in 1878, he married Manuela Williams, daugher of Isaac Williams, owner of the Chino ranch from 1841 to 1856.  The couple had two daughters, Nina and Helen.  Rowland was a trustee of the Whittier State School, a reformatory for boys now called the Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility and a member of the exclusive California Club in downtown Los Angeles.

By the time that he became one of the "three brothers" in acquring that Tonner Canyon property that became Tres Hermanos Ranch, Rowland was near seventy, though also the only of the three to have something of an "authentic" rancher's background and history, dating back to his birth in the twilight of the Mexican era at La Puente.  He lived at his Los Angeles mansion, however, until his death in 1926, at age 80.

Next comes the final of los tres hermanos and more of the direct connection between Tonner and Carbon canyons.

17 February 2011

Canyon Market Closed: New Owner Coming Soon?

After a couple of years of operation, the owners of the Canyon Market (formerly Party House Liquor) in Sleepy Hollow have, within the last few days, closed the store.  There is, however, a placard announcing a change of ownership with the new proprietors known as Camel and Camel, Inc. 

So, it appears there will be a reopening soon.  The question, of course, is whether or not the store can be operated profitably in a moribund economy and with the opening of Circle K a little to the east looming.  If not, it will be interesting to see what the future of the old building will hold.

16 February 2011

Partial Closure on Carbon Canyon Road

I awoke this morning to a little morning drizzle, which was welcome after a long stretch of dry weather, but also the sight of a 25-foot tall (or so) oak tree in my neighbor's yard that had fallen.  Fortunately, it landed at the edge of the property and did not directly topple onto the adjacent Carbon Canyon Road, which, of course, has been in the throes of the morning rush hour.

While walking the kids down to the bus stop, however, it was noted that a second tree had a branch sheared off by the force of the first tree's tumble.  Consequently, moments after arriving at the bus stop, a crack and a crash came and part of the second tree plopped onto a portion the eastbound lane of the highway.  Then, another loud noise was issued and more of tree number two crashed onto the road, completely blocking that side of the highway.  This was also fortuitous because, while there is a long line of commuters going west, the opposite lane, naturally, is relatively lighttly-used. Otherwise, a car could easily have been pinned under the debris.

A neighbor ran out to the shoulder of the westbound lane to direct traffic and, after I ran back home to retrieve something for my son for school and made a call to the Sheriff's Department for traffic assistance, I ventured out to help.  For about fifteen minutes or so, we worked to manage traffic.  Thanks to the 98% of drivers who handled the inconvenience with aplomb! 
Finally, two patrol cars from the Brea Police Department, perhaps having been informed that the incident was on the Orange County side, rolled up and took charge. Within the last few minutes, the Sheriff's Department has shown up, coned off the area, and relieved their Brea colleagues of traffic duty.  Presumably, City of Chino Hills Public Works personnel and/or CalTrans crews will be arriving soon to remove whatever material is directly on the road.  As for my neighbor, who just within recent days has removed two old trees in front of his property, he'll have the onerous expense of having two more to deal with.
Another (partial) road closure on Carbon Canyon Road and an illustration that our many oaks provide beauty and ambience, but can also bring the occasional inconvenience.

13 February 2011

The Tonner Canyon and Carbon Canyon Connection, Part Two

About 1914, Walter F. Fundenberg, a Pittsburgh doctor with signifcant real estate investments in the southern California region, disposed of some 10,000 acres of land in and around the Tonner Canyon area.  Three-quarters, or 7,500 acres, was purchased by Frederick E. Lewis, who created the Diamond Bar Ranch.  The remaining quarter, about 2,500 acres (a little over 800 in Los Angeles County and the balance in San Bernardino County) were acquired by three powerful Los Angeles businessmen, who named their ranch "Tres Hermanos," or "Three Brothers."

El primero hermano, or the first of these "brothers," was Harry Chandler, who may have been the most dominant player in Los Angeles in his prime.  Chandler was born, however, in the hamlet of Landaff, New Hampshire, population now about 400, just west of the famed Franconia Notch within the White Mountains region of the north-central region of the state.  Chandler's father (and grandfather before him) was a farmer in Landaff and both later lived near Los Angeles, running an apiary or bee colony among other products on ranches at Cahuenga Pass and then at Roscoe, now Sun Valley at the east end of the San Fernando Valley.  When Harry completed high school in his mother's hometown of Lisborn, he entered Dartmouth College, but his studies were interrupted by illness.  This was brought on by a dare the freshman took: diving into a vat of freezing starch (sounds like hazing!), which caused a severe fever, cough and lung trouble.  Withdrawing from school, Chandler, like so many other "health seekers" from the Eastern states, headed to Los Angeles to recuperate.  He found a job on an apple ranch, made a few thousand dollars due to his industry, and went back home to reenter Dartmouth.  Within days, his lung problems returned and Chandler convinced his father, grandfather and others to join him on a return to Los Angeles, which was accomplished in 1885.

This was fortuitous for a number of reasons.  First, a direct transcontinental railroad link to Los Angeles was made that year by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad and within a short time, a land boom and population explosion transformed the town into a notable city, even when the famed "Boom of the Eighties" collapsed by 1890.  Chandler also benefitted by finding the perfect employer, the relatively new Los Angeles Times newspaper, which started publication at the end of 1881 and was soon purchased by General Harrison Gray Otis, a titanic force of nature who became renowned (and despised, as well) for his use of the paper as a platform for conservative, anti-union, pro-business stances.  Chandler started off modestly, working as a clerk in the circulation department and picking up several delivery routes, which were privately handled then.  His management of these routes and their collections was so profitable that he was able to buy stock in the Times-Mirror Company, the parent of the Times.  Soon, he was catching the eye of  General Otis.  Chandler, who was married to Magdalena Schlador and then widowed with two daughters when Magdalena died in 1892 after childbirth, also caught the eye of Otis' daughter, Marian, whom he wed in 1894.  The couple had six children in their fifty year marriage.

Another view of Tres Hermanos Ranch from 16 September 1925, showing the reservoir (evidently the same known today as Arnold Reservoir), some grazing (and drinking) stock, and, on a hill at the left third of the image, the ranch house built by Chandler and his associates.  Courtesy: Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum.

In 1898, Chandler was made Assistant General Manager and Vice-President of the Times and retained this position until the death of Otis in 1917, at which time Chandler became President and General Manager.  The reality, though, is that Chandler was far less interested than his father-in-law in journalism and far more in business, especially real estate and in major holdings with syndicates of investors.  In 1899, he was part of a group that eventually acquired a staggering 800,000 acres of land along the American and Mexican borders in California and Sonora.  The American portion became the California and Mexico Land Company and the Colorado River Land Company controlled the Mexican section.  In 1912, Chandler and others purchased the famed Rancho El Tejon in the Grapevine area between Los Angeles and Bakersfield, a holding of nearly 300,000 acres in Los Angeles and Kern counties.  Some 350,000 acres in New Mexico and Colorado were purchased solely by Chandler, this comprising the Vermejo Ranch.  In the first decade of the 1900s, Chandler, Moses Sherman and others bought 60,000 acres of the largely dry San Fernando Valley, with full knowledge that the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which opened in 1913, would bring water to the valley and send land prices skyward.  The $2.5 million investment eventually yielded some $17 million in sales over several years, a staggering profit in an age in which average Americans might make a couple thousand dollars per year.  Later, in the 1930s, he took part in acquisitons of land in the San Gabriel Valley (Rancho Santa Anita) and near Los Angeles International Airport (Rancho La Cienega), which were developed into residential tracts in the cities of Arcadia and San Gabriel and the Baldwin Hills area of Los Angeles.

He was involved in shipping, was a builder of the landmark Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, created an early radio station, KHJ, and was a promoter of aviation, forming Western Air Lines, ing the 1920s.  His enterprises were mind-boggling in their array and influence.

Chandler also devoted much time to developing tourism in the region, which, of course, was intimately tied to his newspaper and real estate interests.  He was a founder of the "All-Year Club of Southern California" anc actively participated in the creation of tourist "traps" like Olvera Street and Chinatown (originally called "China City" when the old Chinatown was demolished and its denizens relocated for the construction of Union Station in the 1930s.)

For such a well-connected and powerful individual, Chandler was particularly publicity averse, walked or drove himself to work, and avoided alcohol.  He died in September 1944 at age eighty having achieved a level of wealth and power with few equals in the history of Los Angeles.

Chandler also created in the 1910s, the Chandis (Chandler-Otis) Securities Company, which became the entity which controlled the vast real estate holdings of the family, including Tres Hermanos Ranch.  In future posts, there will be other references to Chandis, which eventually divested itself of much of its portfolio along with the Times, but still exists as a family holding company based in Pasadena.

Next, el segundo de los tres hermanos, or the second of the three brothers: William R. Rowland.

09 February 2011

Carbon [Canyon] Creek Cleanup Commencing Cuikly Corrected

It appears that what was supposed to happen on Monday concerning the cleanup of Carbon [Canyon] Creek was a meeting of the minds to discuss how the project would be handled rather than the initiation of work.  The mayor of Chino Hills, a city staffer, a fire board director, a member of the Santa Ana Watershed Authority (SAWA) and a couple of Sleepy Hollow residents were to walk an area of the creek and go over the plan to eliminate excessive plant material,remove highly flammable palm trees, and redirect the creekbed away from Carbon Canyon Road to avoid potential washouts during storms.

Unfortunately, the city staffer canceled the meeting at the last moment due to illness, even though one of the participants flew back to the area specifically for the confab.  Presumably, there will be a rescheduled get-together and maybe a timetable developed for the work.  Because SAWA already has the necessary state and federal permits for the arundo removal project often mentioned in this blog, the major hurdles have already been overcome.

Let's hope something can be done before the next fire season (although, in many ways, the so-called fire "season" has become a year-round phenomenon) as well as before next winter when the potential of heavy rain can mean a swollen creek and effects on the state highway.

08 February 2011

The Tonner Canyon and Carbon Canyon Connection, Part One

A previous entry on this blog (1 October 2009) discussed Tonner Canyon as adjacent to Carbon Canyon, which is, geographically speaking, true and also gave a little history.  Some poking around, however, has revealed that there are far more direct connections in terms of ownership of areas within the two canyons.  There will be a series of entries in coming days that will detail some of this history, especially concerning the Tres Hermanos Ranch in Tonner Canyon and the Columbia Oil Producing Company and Union Oil Company, which operated in Carbon Canyon as well as Brea Canyon and other areas.

Most of the focus will be on the notable characters who owned the Tres Hermanos Ranch and the larger parcel that included it and what became the Diamond Bar Ranch, precursor to the namesake city.  Some searching still needs to be done regarding the history of these areas prior to 1910, but, for now, it should be noted that these areas were, in the Spanish and Mexican-era rancho system, public lands, not subject to private ownership.  These common areas were to allow neighboring stock owners to graze their animals, such as Isaac Williams and his heirs at Rancho Santa Ana del Chino; Ygnacio Palomares, Ricardo Vejar and Louis Phillips on Rancho San José (Pomona); and John Rowland and his descendants on Rancho La Puente; among others.

In an 1877 map of southern California, these public areas appear to have largely or completely been purchased by two men named Butler and Beach, of whom more research needs to be done.  This also holds true for whoever else came along and owned these parcels prior to about 1910.  It was sometime around then that some 10,000 acres came into the hands of William Founder Fundenberg [there's a mouthful!], a native of Allegany, Maryland, who lived for years in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania before coming to the southern California area sometime around or just after 1900.

Fundenberg came from an illustrious family of physicians and dentists in the Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia areas at a time when the professionalization of these disciplines was just underway.  His uncle, also Walter F. [Franklin] Fundenberg (1828-1908) was a graduate of the University of Maryland when it was located in Baltimore, receiving his degree in 1850, though in that year's census he was residing in Wheeling, West Virginia and was still a student along with James Hullihen, whose brother Samuel (married to Walter Franklin's sister Elizabeth) is known as the "Father of Oral Surgery" for his pioneering work in that field.  Shortly afterward he migrated to Pittsburgh where he operated a practice with a man named Depuy.  In 1852, Walter Franklin cofounded the Dental Association of Allegheny County, the sixth professional organization for dentistry in America.  During the Civil War he was a surgeon for two infantry divisions from Pennsylvania in the Union Army.  For several decades he continued his dental practice in Pittsburgh, eventually creating a firm with his three sons, before retiring before 1900 and moving to Atlantic City, New Jersey, where he died in 1908.

Walter Forward was the son of George B. Funderberg (1811-1885) and Ximena Horton.  George was a physician who was not nearly as prominent as his younger brother, but seems to have made a decent living.  In 1850, George and Ximena were in Wheeling, West Virginia, living next to George's brother Walter Franklin, and with their three children, including 2-year old Walter Forward.  A decade later, the family was in Somerset, Pennsylvania, southeast of Pittsburgh and then moved again to Allegany, Maryland in the mountainous area of the northwest part of the state.  By 1870, the 21-year old Walter Forward had completed his education at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary (founded in 1820 and still operating [!] near Gramercy Park in Manhattan) and was practicing medicine with his father and remained in that area for at least another decade.  In 1879, he was moving between Allegany and Keyser, West Virginia, a border town to the southwest.  There he advertised as an "oculist" and "aurist"--essentially an eye and ear specialist and was reported on in the local newspaper for his succcessful cataract surgeries.

A woman on horseback on the Tres Hermanos Ranch in Tonner Canyon, 16 September 1925.  The land was owned by Dr. Walter F. Fundenberg (1848-1928) during the 1910s before it was sold and became Tres Hermanos.  The original photo is blurry, unfortunately.  Courtesy: Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum.

By 1881, however, Walter Forward had relocated with his father and family to Pittsburgh, registered with the Pennsylvania Board of Health and opened his practice of medicine (he was known as an allopath, meaning standard medicine, as opposed to an osteopath) on Penn Avenue, a main thoroughfare in the city and where his uncle and cousins also operated their dentistry.  He remained there for some two decades.  In 1895, he married a woman, Agnes, who had a child from a previous marriage, though the couple were themselves childless.

It is unclear what brought Walter Forward to southern California after 1900, but, by 1910, he was operating an orange grove and living on Victoria Avenue in Riverside, one of the main centers of the region's citrus industry.  Notably, his neighbor was Hiram Dupuy, who had practiced dentistry with Walter's namesake uncle and cousins back in Pittsburgh.  It was presumably around this time that Walter Fundenberg purchased 10,000 acres of the former public lands mentioned above and, in 1912, he acquired another 1,000 acres in what is now northeast San Dimas for more orange growing.

Fundenberg's ownership of the Tonner Canyon/Diamond Bar area land may have been for investment.  The national depression of 1907 had eased and there was another land and development boom enveloping the Los Angeles region after 1910.  It is worth noting that huge tracts in the eastern San Gabriel Valley were being sold and developed after the 1909 death of "Lucky" Baldwin, a land baron who had held tens of thousands of acres from Arcadia to La Puente.  By 1910, the townsite of Chino was able to incorporate as the economy improved and farming and land sales were on the rise.  Finally, the discovery of oil in the general area, which started in the Puente Hills in 1885 and continued with the Olinda field in 1897, was leading to oil speculation nearby.

Why Fundenberg sold his holdings within a decade or so is not known, but, in 1918, he transferred some 7,500 acres in Los Angeles County to Frederick E. Lewis, who created the Diamond Bar Ranch.  This ranch remained intact until it was sold and subdivided in the post-World War II years.  Meantime, the remaining 2,500 acres, some 800 in Los Angeles County and the remainder in San Bernardino County, was purchased (either in 1914 or 1918) by three well-connected businessmen from Los Angeles who called themselves the Tres Hermanos, or "Three Brothers."  More on them in upcoming posts.

As to Fundenberg, he had moved to Pasadena sometime in the 1910s (a younger brother, George, also came out to Pasadena from the East to practice medicine) and then out to Covina, where he secured his state medical license in 1922, though within a couple of years the Great Register of Voters listed him as retired.  If this was so, it didn't last long, as he returned to Pasadena and his medical practice.  He was in Pasadena living at Los Robles Avenue near Colorado Boulevard when he died on 18 March 1928 at the age of 79.

06 February 2011

Carbon [Canyon] Creek Cleanup Commencing Cuikly

According to a neighbor, it appears that tomorrow work will begin on a project to remove weeds, dead plant material and other items from Carbon [Canyon] Creek within the Chino Hills portion of that watercourse. 

This came after a recent meeting among representatives from the City of Chino Hills, the Santa Ana Watershed Authority, and the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council to discuss the hazards associated with debris causing the water level in the creek to rise and causing cave-ins of Carbon Canyon Road as well as dead plant material posing a risk of fire during the drier seasons of the year.

The Santa Ana Watershed Authority, which has also overseen work to remove arundo in the creek on the Brea side of the Canyon and which apparently will also be involved in taking out the few areas on the Chino Hills portion in which the invasive plant grows, has the permits in place from the California Department of Fish and Game to allow the removal of debris to go forward.  The City of Chino Hills, which owns the land in and around the creek, will be providing the personnel and equipment for the project. 

This long overdue work, however, would not have taken place if not for the dedication and perseverence of members of the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council who are also residents of the Sleepy Hollow community.  As these persons have pointed out at Fire Safe Council meetings, the city has conducted cleanup work in the past to keep the creek clear, but this important task has been neglected in recent years.  Let's hope that it won't be another several years or a decade before the question of keeping one of the few natural watercourses in the city clean arises again and that some sort of general maintenance plan can be formulated and, more importantly, adhered to.